Look­ing good still a pri­or­ity, re­port on busi­ness trends shows

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY DIMITRA MANIFAVA

Greeks are buy­ing less bread and milk, and quit­ting or cut­ting down on smok­ing, but women still like to pay frequent vis­its to the hair­dresser. Sim­i­lar con­sumer trends that have emerged since 2010 have – in com­bi­na­tion with a string of reg­u­la­tory changes – trig­gered a shake-up of Greece’s busi­ness map, par­tic­u­larly in the cru­cial area of re­tail sales.

These trends are re­flected in data pub­lished by the Gen­eral Com­mer­cial Reg­is­ter and used by En­deavor Greece in its re­port “Greek En­trepreneur­ship in Num­bers.” The main fo­cus of the re­port is re­tail sales, in­clud­ing the cater­ing sec­tor.

One strik­ing trend is ev­i­dent in bak­eries and patis­series, where the drop in sales of sweets and the lib­er­al­iza­tion of the bak­ery sec­tor – al­low­ing, for ex­am­ple, su­per­mar­kets to sell freshly baked prod­ucts – have re­sulted in 226 shops clos­ing down in 2016 com­pared with 162 new open­ings in the same pe­riod and 417 open­ings in 2012.

Kiosks, once present on ev­ery city cor­ner, have gone from record­ing the fifth big­gest num­ber of new open­ings in 2012 (when 753 were es­tab­lished) to a drop of 68 per­cent, with 383 clo­sures against 242 open­ings in 2016. Ex­perts at­tribute this slide to ex­ces­sive tax­a­tion on to­bacco prod­ucts, a drop in news­pa­per and mag­a­zine sales be­cause of the cri­sis, as well as to con­sumers be­ing more cau­tious about im­pulse pur­chases such as choco­lates and sweets. Kiosks have also been af­fected by the suc­ces­sive changes made to their li­cens­ing sta­tus, which was lib­er­al­ized in 2011 be­fore some re­stric­tions were rein­tro­duced in 2014 and 2015.

Suc­ces­sive hikes in heat­ing oil prices since the start of the cri­sis have made cen­tral heat­ing an un­af­ford­able lux­ury for most Greek house­holds, who have come to rely on fire­places and wood­burn­ing stoves, lead­ing to a rapid in­crease in busi­nesses sell­ing fire­wood.

The au­thors of the re­port note that surges in new busi­nesses prompted by ephemeral trends ul­ti­mately lead to large num­bers of clo­sures. This is ev­i­dent in the field of cafes/bars and restau­rants: While open­ings in this field posted a record high of 1,955 in 2012 (or 19.1 per­cent of all new busi­nesses) and 1,535 in 2016 (or 15 per­cent of the to­tal), the num­ber of clo­sures – 1,852 cafe/bars and 1,269 restau­rants were struck off the Gen­eral Com­mer­cial Reg­is­ter in 2016 – points to the risks of em­bark­ing on such a ven­ture.

An­other in­ter­est­ing trend that emerges from the re­port is that beauty and pam­per­ing re­main im­por­tant to Greeks, with hair and nail sa­lons rank­ing in fifth place in terms of open­ings in 2016 and, de­spite a large num­ber of clo­sures, still en­joy­ing a sur­plus.

In re­tail sales as a whole, 2016 saw the open­ing of 10,228 new busi­nesses – 41 per­cent be­low 2012 – and the clo­sure of 10,925.

Kiosks have gone from record­ing the fifth big­gest num­ber of open­ings in 2012 to a drop of 68 per­cent.

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